Coccydynia, also known as tailbone pain, is a frustrating condition that may occur for a variety of reasons. The coccyx is the last bone of the spinal column and is located under the sacrum. It curves slightly forward normally, with the main function of weight bearing while a person sits.
What are the common causes of tailbone pain?
Most often, a person will not remember an inciting event. In these cases, the tailbone pain is called idiopathic. It may be that degenerative wear and tear due to arthritis is the cause.
During childbirth, there is significant temporary bony displacement in order to make a passage for the baby. This may lead to tailbone pain, it explains why women are five times more likely to develop coccydynia than men.
Another common cause of tailbone pain is trauma from either a direct fall or a traffic accident. In these cases, the coccyx can fracture and then heal in an abnormal position.
There are instances of the coccyx shifting from its normal position, either due to poor posture or repetitive activities. This can lead to chronic pain.
What are the symptoms of tailbone pain?
The most classic symptom is a significant pain while sitting on a hard surface, such as a chair. This is usually relieved when an individual gets up to walk. This may be mild or severe.
The pain may limit a person’s daily activities such as driving or bending. Pain may also be felt during bowel movements or sexual activity. Pain may radiate into the legs and oftentimes may lead to a disturbed sleep pattern.
How is Coccydynia diagnosed?
A complete medical history is necessary to understand any inciting events such as trauma or childbirth. Clinical examination with palpation of the coccyx region may lead to the diagnosis or the finding of something else such as a tumor or infection.
Imaging studies are frequently obtained to evaluate for bony pathology which may be caused by a poorly healed fracture.
How is the condition treated?
Conservative options include many different types of medications both orally as well as topically, electrical stimulation, physical therapy, local injections, and possibly nerve blocking procedures. Rarely is surgery necessary.